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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Customer Service in your Medical Practice: Attitude Is Everything

There truly may not be enough words in the English language to sum up the importance of attitude at your medical practice. It is a topic so broad, that it will even be difficult to sum up in this post. To narrow this down, the easiest place to start is by working your attitude into your customer service model.

A great attitude in customer service can be very simple: Choose to be thankful for every patient that walks through your door, whether you are the receptionist, the nurse, the medical assistant, the doctor, office manager, or bill collector. You must thank every person that comes in for choosing your medical practice. Let them know that you are grateful that they are there.

This can be fairly easy to integrate into appointment scheduling, telephone answering check-in, and check out. Simply thanking a patient for calling, stopping by, and/or arriving on time should be habit from day one (and should be a part of an interview with a new staff member and orientation). A simple change of your greeting on the phone to “Thank you for calling XYZ Family Medicine, how may I help you?” can start the conversation off in a positive manner and begin laying the path for the patient (aka customer) to feel like they are in good hands.

Where things get tricky is thanking the patient that arrived late. A simple and sincere “Thank you for making it in” after they explain what happened or in the course of letting them know they will need to reschedule can help ease an otherwise uneasy situation. Sincerity is key in the delivery.

You can continue your attitude of gratitude and great customer service by having the staff member (usually the nurse/medical assistant) that brings the patient to their exam room and starts their assessment by phrasing their initial statement, “Thanks for coming in today, I understand you are here for …” and certainly in the instance of running off schedule — “Thank you for your patience Ms. Smith, I apologize we are running a little behind schedule.”

This same positive, smiling, thankful attitude should follow the patient all the way to the checkout desk where they make payment and schedule their appointment. You should thank patients again for coming in, thank them again for their patience if they have had to wait, and certainly thank them for making their payment and scheduling another appointment.

In your attitude adjustment to thankfulness, please don’t grovel or beg, and it can be a fine line. Desperation will make your patients uncomfortable; even if you are, is not the right attitude to project — it turns patients off and makes them uncomfortable.

Try these suggestions on for size in your practice. Attitude is contagious, so pass around your fantastic attitude to your co-workers, staff, and patients. Please understand the depth of attitude — you choose your attitude every moment, and the simple tool of choosing to change to an attitude of thankfulness, of gratitude, is life changing and will transform your business. Once you and your staff have mastered the art, there will be no stopping the successes personally and professionally that comes your way.

Approximately 7 out of 10 clinics I consult with aren’t saying thank you to their patients, at all. How does your clinic stack up?

Find out more about Audrey "Christie" McLaughlin and our other Practice Notes bloggers.


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